Stella McCartney Says Sustainability Doesn’t Have To Sacrifice Luxury In Beatles-Filled Paris Runway

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The British-American designer had star-studded endorsements — a front row with the two surviving members of The Beatles, Ringo Starr and her father, Paul McCartney, in a seldom-seen joint appearance — and the backing of the luxury conglomerate LVMH to spotlight the urgent need for the industry to reckon with its impact on the planet.
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A greenhouse in Paris’ Parc Andre Citroen was a fitting stage for Stella McCartney’s ecology-minded showcase at Paris Fashion Week on Monday.

“We are one of the most harmful industries,” McCartney said in a challenge to luxury houses.

Here are highlights of the fall-winter 2024 ready-to-wear collections.

SEQUINS OF RECYCLED ALUMINUM

The fall collection began with an expletives-laden film voiced by Oscar winners Olivia Colman and Helen Mirren inviting the world to protect Mother Earth. McCartney’s message was clear: Glamour need not come at the Earth’s expense.

Cue sequins made from recycled aluminum, sparkling faux-diamond crystal lattice details and alternative leather handbags. Mock crocodile-skin trenchcoats were fashioned from AppleSkin, a vegan leather made from apple waste.

Dramatic wool coatdresses (one showcased by model of the minute Lila Moss, Kate Moss ’ daughter) sported cascading hoops and a swag in the silhouette, prompting one fashion insider to christen it the “new fur coat.”

In terms of aesthetic, stiff shoulder pads offered a broad shouldered look this season with more than a whiff of the ’80s, while a stylish, asymmetrical vegan leather stud dress provided a nice flash of punk.

Sometimes the silhouette got lost in the shaggier looks — such as one limp black jumpsuit — but to dwell on that would be to miss the point.

‘INFILTRATE FROM WITHIN’

That sustainability need not lead to compromising on opulence for luxury garments was a message aimed at the influential Antoine Arnault of LVMH, the world’s premier luxury group — seated in prime position, and whose wife, Natalia Vodianova, McCartney selected as a model in the show.

McCartney told The Associated Press her aim for the industry is to “infiltrate from within.” The fashion sector contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, she said, underlining the urgency for change.

“I’m fighting inside, and they’re very open-hearted to it. I’m very encouraged,” she said of LVMH, which bought a minority stake in her brand in 2019.

McCartney said the clout and backing of LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault “gives a really, really loud message to the industry.”

In a fact sheet diligently sent to guests, McCartney noted that 90% of this season’s ready-to-wear is crafted from “responsible materials.” It also pointed to new innovations that keep the brand at the cutting edge, including the bags coated with a curious substance called ‘Airlite,’ a technology that purports to actively purify the air around it!

MELANIE C IS A STELLA FAN

The former Spice Girl was all smiles, greeting McCartney after the show in between Beatles before taking selfies with fans, interspersed with refrains of “girl power.”

Melanie C said she has admired McCartney’s designs for “a very long time.”

“Being a sporty girl, I love the little nod to sport with the little rip away, with the denim and the vegan leather,” the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice told the AP.

The singer said found the collection with its eco-message “so moving. So prevalent. But it takes designers like Stella to get that message home.”

SACAI’S MASTERY

Chitose Abe is a queen of illusion, whose revered designs are deeply rooted in the balance between simplicity and complexity. On Monday, a deceptively simple black boxy jacket seemed to hang on the front of a model, while on another look white tubular arms seemed to appear out of nowhere from the back. Her flair is to evoke minimalism in garments that incorporate complex but hidden experimental details.

Abe is preoccupied with volume, and garments often feature exaggerated forms in circular silhouettes, both side-to-side and front-to-back. This fall, jackets had unconventional pocket placements and sweaters had surreal voluminous silhouettes, one resembling a round crab with pincers.

Abe’s signature of strategic slashes, pleats, and unconventional construction, transform classic pieces into something entirely new. Two brown suit jackets of different patterns and sizes were cut up, deconstructed, and fused Monday’s runway with aplomb.

MARINE SERRE’S WATER COOLER MOMENT

The main talking point of Marine Serre’s trendy, hipster fall collection was what was not in the show. Kate Moss was not in it. This even though a model resembling Kate Moss walked the runway and had everyone in the audience gasping and reaching for their cameras. Serre tricked her audience, using a famous Moss impersonator, Denise Ohnona, to showcase her designs.

Tricks and tongue-in-cheek abounded for this fashion forward French designer who recently rose to prominence after winning the coveted LVMH prize. A real actual live baby was camouflaged on a signature Moon print skin-tight onesie in the designer’s favorite, jacquard spandex. Real leeks poked out of a “handbag,” that resembled — and perhaps even was — a refrigerator bag used to shop for frozen goods. Reflective shades added the feeling of mix and match cool, with dropped ruffled mini skirts and a take on tennis garb.

COPERNI’S INNOVATIVE ‘AIR SWIPE’ BAG AND FUTURISTIC FASHION

Coperni, the Parisian brand designed by Sebastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant established in 2013, has grown a stratospheric digital following in recent seasons for its futuristic, often conceptual storytelling.

This fall welcomed the luminous Air Swipe bag, a small, incredibly light, space-age-looking item borrowed from NASA scientific technology made from 99% air and 1% glass. The brand says that this handbag is the biggest object ever made from this nanomaterial, used by NASA to capture stardust because it can withstand extreme heat.

In the styles, cutouts, slashes and banding made formal and textural statements in a rather play-it-safe collection. A gray knit sweater with criss cross pattern had sported descending strips ressembling a medieval dress, above sheeny metallic tights.

Elsewhere, striped black cummerbunds, fringed cap sleeves, spiked starfish heels and furry kimono gowns provided the whimsy.

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